Lijiang Old Town

A Guide to the Best Things to do in Lijiang Old Town

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Lijiang Old Town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Yunnan province and all of China. This is no coincidence, considering the Lijiang Old Town’s beauty, charm, and cultural value. After traveling to the ancient city of Dali, I spent a day and a half in Lijiang Old Town – and fell in love! There’s so much to see and do in Lijiang, even if you only have a short time to explore!

Here are the best things to do in Lijiang Old Town.

Why visit Lijiang Old Town?

Lijiang Old Town village dates back to the Song Dynasty (960—1279) and is one of the oldest places and an absolute must-see in Yunnan. The old town is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the whole of China. Lijiang Old Town (丽江古城) is also included on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. The old town boasts picturesque streets , small rivers and narrow canals, over 300 ancient stone bridges, countless old alleyways and many antique houses.

Start at Square Market

The Square Market marks the center of Lijiang Old Town, is one of the most famous Lijiang’s tourist attractions, where you can find useful things like ATMs or stations to top up your cellphone prepaid card. The closer you get to the center, the more touristy it gets. Therefore, I suggest starting at the middle point around Square Market and working your way further out.

  • Admission: 80 Yuan/person for the maintenance fee of the ancient city 
  • Opening Hours: all day
  • Getting there: Take Bus No.11, No.8 of the inner ring and outer ring, No.15 of the inner ring and outer ring and get off at Gu Chengkou Station(古城口站).
Lijiang Old Town

Explore the Minority Cultures

12 minority ethnic groups live in Lijiang Old Town and its surrounding areas, the most famous of the Naxi. Keep your eyes open, and you will probably see people of all the twelve minorities walking through town. If you like, you can even rent traditional clothes and pose for photos. 

Various restaurants, guesthouses or travel agencies (which are scattered around the city) also offer entertainment programs like the Lijiang Impression Show (印象*丽江) or the Dayan Naxi Ancient Music Concert.

Lijiang Old Town
Lijiang Old Town

Conquer the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

One of the highlights of my visit to Lijiang was the famous Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Mountain玉龙雪山). Luckily, the hotel we stayed at offered a special service and hired a driver who was able to take us straight to the mountain for around $40 USD for two people.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is the southernmost snow mountain in the Northern Hemisphere, with 13 peaks reaching over 4,000 meters. The highest peak is called Shanzidou(扇子陡). 

If you dare to climb the top of the mountain, you must make sure to wear professional hiking gear and bring oxygen tanks. Visitors can buy bottles with fresh oxygen at the main ticket station at the bottom of the hill.

To start the hike, take the shuttle bus to the mountain’s picturesque bottom with lakes and waterfalls for a beautiful view. Since I felt very sick that day, I was unable to hike for a long time. I had to return to my hotel in Lijiang around 1.5 hours after arriving at the mountain area.

  • Admission: 105 Yuan/person
  • Getting there: Take Snow Mountain Line Bus No.7 from Lijiang Ancient City or rent a van from Lijiang to Jade Dragon Snow Mountain at 150 Yuan round trip.

Best Time to Visit Lijiang China

Thanks to its elevated location and proximity to the equator, Lijiang experiences minimal temperature fluctuations, making it a great destination to visit throughout the year. However, the most favorable periods for visiting are generally from April to June and September to November, when the weather is particularly pleasant.

Where to Stay in Lijiang

The Best Hotels in Lijiang

Lijiang has experienced an influx in tourism in recent years. This has also led to more and more hotels being opened in and around Lijiang Old Town. Whether you are looking for 5-star luxury stays at household names like Banyan Tree, Pullman, and Hilton, or affordable hostel dorms, there is something for all budgets.
Where to stay in Lijiang is not a problem

How to Get to Lijiang

Lijiang is well-connected with various regions, including Hong Kong, Taipei, Bangkok, Singapore, Seoul, and others, through its international flight services. The distance between Lijiang Airport and Lijiang Old Town is approximately 29 kilometers. Travelers have the option to reach the old town by either taking a taxi, which typically costs around 80-100 Yuan, or by utilizing the airport bus service available outside the arrivals hall.

Come and discover Lijiang!

If this guide doesn’t convince you to travel to Lijiang, nothing will! It’s a place I definitely want to return to and explore more. However, if you only have limited time, I strongly suggest to explore Lijiang Old Town and then venture off to see the beautiful Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

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Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.


  1. Megan Indoe on November 3, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    I really want to visit the Yunnan Province in China, everytime I see photos I am impressed! The mountains looks amazing! We will have to add that to our list!

    • Linda Dunsmore on November 9, 2015 at 11:26 pm

      It’s absolutely stunning there! It’s by far the most beautiful area in China for sure!

  2. Rafiqua on November 4, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    This place is so pretty, especially the waterfall area. I like the idea of renting traditonal clothes. I woner if someone rented the clothes and posed for photos, if they would be photobombed by a real traditional person 😀

    • Linda Dunsmore on November 9, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Hehe that would be pretty cool! I have come to realise that the minority people are quite camera show and you need to be sneaky and quick to get good shots!

  3. Gina Panozzo on November 5, 2015 at 9:03 am

    This is absolutely breathtaking. Your photos are incredible and it makes me feel like I’m standing there with you!

    • Linda Dunsmore on November 9, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Thank you Gina! I’m so happy you like my photos 🙂

  4. Eric Hevesy on November 6, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Great post! I’ve also travelled to Lijiang and only spent about 48 hours there as well! I also spent 3 days in Dali and loved it, especially cycling around the lake. In Lijiang, I also rented a bike but didn’t get to see as much. I didn’t make it to the Jade Dragon Mountain, but wish I had at least gone to the base after seeing your photos. That shot with the waterfall is especially beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

    • Linda Dunsmore on November 9, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      Thank you Eric! I haven’t made it to the Lake in Dali but it’s on my list. Have you been to Shangri-la? It was on the list originally but then we didn’t have enough time to go 🙁

  5. Charisse on November 6, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I love the traditional clothing. In every part of the world, that seems to be one of my favorite things to see. The mountains and waterfalls are beautiful! I hope I can visit China soon.

    • Linda Dunsmore on November 9, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      Thank you Charisse! You should definitely go and see China, it’s amazing!

  6. Nathan Anderson on November 6, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Wow, you got some amazing pictures! Lijiang sounds like a really cool place, but I’d be most interested in the Jade Tiger Snow Mountains. I love hiking, and it looks surreal. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Linda Dunsmore on November 9, 2015 at 11:22 pm

      Thank you so much Nathan! I did love the mountain and wished I could have hiked around more but I got so terribly sick that I had to return to the hotel! 🙁 but I will be back!

  7. deany on November 9, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Your photos are wonderful. Makes me want to go back to China to travel around. You mentioned the 12 tribes how are you able to distinguish between the members of each tribe?

    • Linda Dunsmore on November 9, 2015 at 11:22 pm

      Thanks! They mostly wear different traditional clothes. Other than that, they might have a darker complexion than the Han Chinese.

  8. Hedgers Abroad on November 9, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    The Lijiang Old Town has been on my must see list in China for quite some time. We are saving China for when we have extended vacation though since there is simply too much we want to see and do. I will be going through your posts to see more of your suggestions!

    Quick question though… is there anyway to make your font a bit larger? I have to zoom in to read like an old lady ahaha

    • Linda Dunsmore on November 9, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      Thanks for your comment! China is incredible! There’s so much to see and do for sure! Thank you for telling me the font problem! I made it bigger, can you let me know if it’s better now?

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